"Overall I can't be satisfied with my play, nor with my result, although I certainly was lucky more often than I was not."
Anish on Stavanger 2014 with game analyses

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Among Big Names
The news about my participation in NorwayChess 2014 tournament reached me quite well in advance, so already for a while I was looking forward to take part in this high class event. The tournament is no doubt the strongest event of the year, with yours truly world nr.14 (possibly overrated) being the 9th seed. The participant list included pretty much all the big names, including Carlsen, Aronian, Kramnik, Topalov, Caruana, Karjakin, Grischuk, Svidler and the local legend Simen Agdestein (not to be confused with Carlsen's manager Espen Agdestein). The venue is the wealthy, but quiet city of Stavanger, known as the European oil capital, situated in the south-west of Norway.

Traditionally I don't make my website readers bored with useless touristic information, and so I will leave that out this time as well and get straight into chess.

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Mr. 'Unbeatable'
Before the first round we played an exciting blitz tournament to determine the drawing of lots. While my hands were shaking, I managed to win quite a few decent games at the start and towards the end I was chasing the leader. At the end when I seemed to have secured the desired 5 whites+4 blacks pairing, I managed to lose my 3 remaining games and so I finished 6th, right behind the lucky pack of 5 players who could enjoy an extra game with white in the 'real' tournament. The drawing of lots paired me with black against Magnus Carlsen in the first round and so already the first day I had to live up to the expectations as the only player the Great Carlsen cannot beat. I got quite a scare at some point in the game, but fortunately I managed to hold the draw, and thus save my image as Mr. Unbeatable.

Game analysis: M. Carlsen - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

The draw with the World Champion with the black pieces may seem like a great result, but in fact I was still very rusty and in the next game too, I played very slowly and missed a beautiful trick.

Game fragment: S. Agdestein - A. Giri (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

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Luck and Bad Luck!
The third round I lost a silly game to Kramnik. The opening went very badly for me and even though the ex-world champion gave me various chances, I failed to exploit any of them.

Following a somewhat messy draw with Caruana, I was very lucky to beat Topalov, but the credit for that goes to my opponent who found himself in a terrible shape in the first half of the event.

In round 6, I came well prepared for my game against Aronian and thanks to a witty tactic he almost found himself in trouble, but finally my extra pawn only gave me a symbolic plus and I never had any real hopes of winning this one.

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My game with white against Karjakin was my last chance to fight for something real and so I was in a mood to go all out for it. Fortunately for me, the opening idea that I had in mind worked out completely and I managed to get a comfortable plus. I was moving around back and forth for pretty much all of the game, but one way or the other, the position was only getting better and better for me. At the end Sergei attempted to build what seemed like an unbreakable fortress. I found the right plan quite quickly, but instead of accumulating my time, I was using it to think of the consequences of the risky breakthrough. Eventually I decided to go for it, but with the time constantly ticking away and the level of mental strength going down towards its minimum, I messed it up completely.

Game fragment: A. Giri - S. Karjakin (Click here to view the game analysis in Chessbase viewer)

After this game there was a restday, but with -1, going into the last 2 rounds I no longer could fight for the top prizes.

Getting Ready for the Next
I was fortunate to survive a very dubious Benoni position against Grischuk, but then again sometimes the genius Russian player has to pay price for his ambitious time management.

In the last round I found myself playing quite slowly against Peter Svidler and once I got the opportunity to repeat the moves, I decided that we have played enough chess over the last two weeks.

Overall I can't be satisfied with my play, nor with my result, although I certainly was lucky more often than I was not. Of course the turning point was my collapse against Karjakin, which was important for me, but even more for Karjakin, who surprisingly went on to win the remaining games- Congratulations to him!

Fortunately there is time to catch some breath for me and get ready for the next serious tournament. This July I am going to Biel and it promises to be another exciting event!


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